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A third-degree black belt test like no other

All Action Karate instructors, students and friends, from white belts to advanced degrees, are invited to complete a portion of a third-degree Black Belt test


By Rochelle E. Brenner

The chronology is as follows: Jen Wetzel earned her 2nd degree black belt in December 2022. One year later, in December 2023, she was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer: glioblastoma. Her prognosis was 18 - 24 months. Now it is 15-21. 


Even after the diagnosis, she continues to have perfect attendance at karate class. No more driving, no work as a doctor, long calls with insurance, family time and one trip to Florida.


But a predictable routine: Chemo, radiation, karate. 


She wears a hat to cover her lost hair. She moves slower. But she is one of the most dedicated karate students we have ever had. She takes class with her two teenage kids, both assistant instructors at Action Karate. Her husband Tim Wetzel was the head instructor. He stepped back and now works as a part-time staff instructor to dedicate more of his time to family.


Following the chronology, she wants to test for third degree, but she has a difficult road of treatment ahead. The physical demands of the illness would make every segment impossible: the fitness, the memorization, the performance. 


The news of her diagnosis was crushing. Many karate families are part of the support system that takes her to doctor appointments and makes meals. Action Karate instructors from all over asked what they could do for her and her family. 


We now have an answer: a third-degree Black Belt test like no other. A Bucket list accomplishment in honor of a woman of faith, courage and determination. 


On April 27, 2024, all Action Karate instructors and students from white belts to advanced degrees, are invited to complete a portion of a third-degree test. The cumulative results, the aggregate effort, will add up to one third-degree Black Belt to be awarded to Jen Wetzel.


Can you run 3 miles in under 31 minutes? Do that part of the test. 

40 push-ups? Be on the push-up crew.

Hold a plank for 4 minutes? Be part of that group.

Can you learn an 8-move karate segment? Perform a kata section. 


Action instructors are training and preparing their students to practice each portion of the test. The advanced katas are 100-count and Tam Tui. Participants can do any portion of the test. Any moves of 100-count and any of the 12 moves of Tam Tui.


Each participating Action Karate location is being asked to raise $100 and participants are asked to donate $5 to $10 each directly to the Wetzels.


Jen’s family, colleagues and church friends are joining in various parts of the event.


The judges will be the Senior Instructors of Action Karate as well as Jen Wetzel, who will physically perform as much as she can. 


Nothing like this has ever been attempted before, and it’s a rare opportunity to get people together for someone who so cherishes her karate life. It’s a chance for all of us to live up to our names as true martial artists, in honor of a real one.



When: April 27, 2:15 p.m.


What: Jen Wetzel’s third degree black belt test


Where: Central Bucks South 1100 Folly Road, Warrington, PA


Why: To come together as a karate community to support the Wetzel family


Who: All Action Karate instructors, students, friends and family. If you’re a runner and your kid takes karate, you can do the running portion. No participation/contribution is too little. But you do have to pass the part of the test you attempt. 



Recent blog about the diagnosis:

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